Arrest of fast ductile fracture in the design of gas pipelines has traditionally been assured by specifying Charpy absorbed energy (Cv) of pipe steel based on the Battelle two-curve method. However, the Charpy test has been shown to be inadequate to characterize crack propagation in modern high-strength, high-toughness pipe steels. For steels with Cv more than approximately 100 J, fracture arrest methodologies based on Cv can lead to non-conservative predictions. The problem is that the Charpy specimen is too small to characterize full-scale fracture, and for tough steels the ductility can be so high that the Charpy specimen bends without fracturing completely. To overcome these limitations, the use of a larger full-thickness specimen, the “Drop-Weight Tear Test” (DWTT) specimen, has been proposed. The test is instrumented to measure the force on and displacement of the impactor during crack propagation. The data is interpreted to yield the “crack-tip opening angle” (CTOA), which is constant during steady-state crack growth and characterizes the propagation resistance. The CTOA has been proposed for some time as a suitable property to assess fracture propagation and arrest in high-pressure gas pipelines, but up to now a standard test method for measurement of the CTOA has not been available. To remedy this situation, a draft standard has been developed by the authors and is being balloted by ASTM E081.

In this paper, the CTOA parameter and CTOA-based fracture arrest methodology will be introduced briefly. The background and development of the draft ASTM standard test method for determination of CTOA using the drop-weight tear test (DWTT) specimen will be reviewed including the procedure and the results of an international round robin. In the CTOA test method, the only adjustable parameter is the rotation factor (rp). Using a modified Xue-Wierzbicki damage mechanics model and a statistical analysis, rp has been determined to be a weak function of yield strength, Charpy absorbed energy and specimen thickness. Although no physical model has been developed to explain the interplay of these factors, they are all related to the extent and distribution of plastic deformation ahead of the crack. The technical background and quantification of rp will be described in this paper. It is intended to apply the CTOA test method to a broad range of steels, including thin (less than 6 mm) and thick (larger than 20 mm) pipe steels.

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